Tuesday, August 11, 2009


Yesterday I had the culmination of my entire trip. When I interviewed to be part of the 2009 TALA Masterclass, they asked if there was any special reason why I should get in. I replied, I'm making a narrative feature film about Leonard Bernstein. I'm telling his entire life story by just focusing on the two most remarkable years of his life. 1947-48. His first two trips to Israel. The second DURING the War for Independence.

During that time he actually conducted the Israeli Philharminc Orchestra on the front lines. He didn't create any new works durin this time, and he had the hardest time even finding work after an amazing, fluke, debut at the NY Phil in 1943. He'd been fired from that asst. conductor position because of his ego and no one would hire him for a permanent position. But because of his hardship and other personal reasons, he went to Israel and his life transformed. The most momentus concert in that period was in 1948 in Beer Sheva. The Israeli army (9th Batallion) had taken the city and Bernstein wanted to play for the troops. It was so dangerous only half the orchestra (21 players) agreed to go with him. A military convoy picked them up in Tel Aviv and in extremely dangerous conditions they traveled back to Beer Sheva. There he played for 3000 people in an ancient outdoor amphitheatre as the story goes (told in Day 8 - pitches)

Well a woman in the master class (Iris) has a cousin who's a historian. She called him at my behest to see where that amphitheatre was. I wanted to visit it. I was told it no longer exists, BUT he knew some people who were at the concert and he gave me the number of Shaul Biber the man who organized the concert and led the military convoy that picked up Bernstein 71 years ago.

Yesterday I sat down with Shaul and interviewed him. It was amazing. What a way to end my trip in Israel.

1 comment:

  1. sounds like you are having an amazing life-changing adventure david! I'm enjoying your writing and pictures very much... i've never been to Israel or Africa so am living vicariously through your journey! look forward to your wild african tales (esp. "sleepless on safari: anyone got a sleeping bag i can borrow?:)